Monday, 9 May 2011

PPI - It Was Always Going To Be Trouble

Apologies if I sound exceptionally smug but I knew from the minute I saw it that Payment Protection Insurance was trouble. I was working as a bank manager in Southport when someone in Head Office came up with the idea of selling PPI with every loan. There was a box on the application form and if the customer failed to put a cross in that box they were deemed to have accepted payment protection insurance. On the face of it it looks like a good idea but the cost was extortionate (no wonder we were being pushed to sell it) and the premium for the whole period of the loan was added to the cost of the loan at the outset and interest was charged on it - so effectively the borrowers were paying for a loan to buy up  to five years worth of insurance. Most insurance is renewed annually so this looked like a bad deal. I phoned a local insurance broker and asked how much similar cover would cost with him. It was miles cheaper and could be paid monthly or annually so I told my customers to go to him if they wanted the cover. It sounds a bit disloyal I know but I was one of those old fashioned bank managers who thought that they were there to offer good financial advice - not a rip off insurance salesman. Now that PPI has come home to roost (mostly on the grounds of mis-selling rather than the ridiculous cost) the banks have got their just desserts.

Wonderful news from son Paul. His missing cat turned up at three o'clock this morning sitting on the end of his bed. After being gone for a week, he and Josephine were not hopeful of seeing Wednesday again but you couldn't fault the incredible efforts that they made in trying to find her. Between them they pounded the pavements, canal towpaths and back alleys of the East End delivering hundreds of leaflets and posters. And their success was well deserved even if the cat returned of her own accord. Maybe she saw a poster and realised how much she was missed. Marion and I are delighted for them.

My brother Peter and I had our last trip metal detecting together for some time yesterday as I am off to France soon and he is off to Spain. We travelled down to Shropshire to a field near this ancient church. It's not really the right time of year for detecting as fields are mostly sown with crops and the only available land is pasture which, being unploughed, does not get regularly turned over resulting in lost items sinking deeper and out of the detectors' range. It was a very fine day and I had a great time wandering across the field for a fair few hours. I also had a good chat with the farmer, who, like me, had experienced being filmed for The Antiques road Show. I hope to go back later in the year and try some of the arable fields. It's beautiful countryside so Marion and I may make a short break of it and book into a hotel where she can relax whilst I visit the fields.

I found over sixty signals but, as you can see, there was nothing exciting. At least I cleared a fair bit of junk out of the field. The best finds were a couple of buttons, a musket ball from around the 18th century, a grotty George III penny and a large bronze pot leg (bottom right). This is probably medieval but these are difficult to date and it could be from the 14th to the 17th century. From it's crude shape I imagine it's to the earlier end of this scale.

Oh well. Still no riches from the hobby (but that's not what it's about for me). Here's a few blokes in a field. I think that they might well have found some gold.